RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) confirms that a third horse from Suffolk, Va. has tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). A two-year-old Thoroughbred Filly was euthanized after showing severe neurological symptoms. The horse had an incomplete vaccination history and lab results confirm EEE. No other horses on the farm are showing symptoms of EEE.
VDACS encourages horse owners to speak with their veterinarians about vaccinating their horses for West Nile Virus (WNV) and EEE. The mortality rate for WNV is 30 percent and up to 90 percent for EEE. Vaccinations are effective for six to 12 months.
Sometimes called sleeping sickness, EEE is a mosquito-borne illness that causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take three to ten days for signs of the disease to appear.
For more information on how to control mosquitoes around horses, please visit vdacs.virginia.gov/animals-eastern-equine-encephalitis.shtml. Horse owners may also contact VDACS’ Office of Veterinary Services at 804.786.2483 or consult their local veterinarian.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS